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Why Mumbai showed India the middle finger

india Updated: May 02, 2009 00:30 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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In Mumbai, on Thursday, stars posed with their middle finger inked as proof of voting.

Election Commission officials said the publicity that stars like Abhishek Bachchan (left) attracted can confuse voters, who may, in the next two phases, ask for their middle finger to be marked instead. Abhishek Bachchan

The fine print

Election officers inspect forefingers to ensure there’s no ink. They then apply indelible ink from the tip of the nail to the bottom of the first joint of the forefinger.
But in Maharashtra, on April 30 officers marked the middle finger. The reason: The forefinger of some voters could have had a mark from local body bypolls in some parts of the state, held in February 2009, an EC official said.
In the normal course, the mark is put on the middle finger for proxy voters, who vote on behalf of defence personnel. In that case, the forefinger is marked for one’s own vote and the middle finger for the proxy vote. This year in Maharashtra, the ring finger was marked for proxy voters.
The rule didn’t apply in the first three phases of polls in Jammu and Kashmir, where assembly polls were held in December 2008. The exception wasn’t made in other states like Uttar Pradesh either, where byelections were held in February

India ink

The indelible ink is made especially for elections in India and many other countries by Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited, a public sector undertaking.
For 2009, 20 million bottles of the ink had been provided to the election commission with each bottle costing
Rs 64. The ink, applied to ensure each voter exercises the franchise only once, takes at least a month to fade.
The ink was also used in general elections in South Africa in April 2009 and has been exported to Nepal, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Columbia.